Ashley Holzer on Havanna Wins Tryon CDI3 Grand Prix Freestyle for First Victory as American
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
MILL SPRING, North Carolina, April 22, 2017–The Star Spangled Banner was played in honor of Ashley Holzer for the first time since she became an American after riding her new mount Havanna to victory at the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle Saturday.
“I can’t beieve I’m in this ring and the American anthem is being played for me,” said the 53-year-old Ashley who competed in four Olympics for Canada but after living in the United States for 25 years with an American husband and two children also American, she decided this year to ride for the United States.
“Life is an incredible journey. It was a little emotional. If I have to be selfish, take everybody’s opinions away, I personally am thrilled. I’m very happy. It was the right choice for me. I didn’t think it would be but it truly is.
“I’m thrilled. I can’t quite believe it. Pinch me.”
In the first CDI for Ashley as an American and the debut of Havanna, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare (Hochadel x Rodgau), owned by Diane Fellows, the pair scored 73.735 per cent using music and choreography borrowed from Dressed in Black, a previous Grand Prix horse for Ashley.
Canadian Megan Lane on San D’or placed second on 72.660 per cent and P.J. Rizvi of Greenwich, Connecticut on Breaking Dawn, the horse that Ashley rode at the 2012 Olympics in her last major competition for Canada, was third on 71.650 per cent.
Ashley also placed second on Sir Caramello, an Oldenburg stallion (Sir Donnerhall x Feiner Stern) owned by P.J. Rizvi’s Peacock Ridge Farm, in the Grand Prix Special behind Arlene “Tuny” Page and Dr. House.
Tuny’s win came despite the distraction of a chin strap on her safety helmet coming unclasped midway through the ride that was the second victory in six starts since beginning their Big Tour career two months ago.
Tuny of Wellington, Florida and the 12-year-old Oldenberg gelding scored 68.336 per cent for the win. The pair posted their first victory in their first Special, at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington in February.
Ashley, speaking of the win at Tryon International Equestrian Center which will host the World Equestrian Games in September 2018, said: “I thought I would be emotionally a bit weird about it.
“I feel so embraced by the Americans. I’m cantering around. They’re cheering for me, ‘Go, USA.’ I think it’s thrilling for the owners to see their horses representing the States. This country has been amazing to me. I’ve lived here for 25 years, I feel American now. It’s taking that jump over the threshold, becoming an American, is great.
“Is there a side of me that will always love Canada and will always cheer for Canada, yes, to be honest with you I will always cheer for Canada.” She named Megan Lane, Belinda Trussell and Christilot Boylen who all competed here.
“But for me personally, if I had to be completely selfish I’m thrilled to be American. It’s the right choice for me. Robert Dover has been incredibly helpful already.”
She plans to take his advice about competing in Europe to expose the horses to different venues and more judges to go to the Achleiten and Fritzens shows in Austria in June.
“I haven’t been out there in a big way for a long time. To have that great support behind you, saying, ‘Come on, you can do this.’ ‘Just clean it up and in six months it will be amazing.’ That person who’s looking ahead; you need that to be as good as you can be. I’m pretty thrilled about it.”
Ashley described the mare that Diane Fellows bought for her to compete from Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and her brother, Benjamin, in Aubenhausen, Germany as “mentally exceptional.”
“She has been owned by the Werndls since she was four years old,” she said. “They have brought her up so well. She is a trusting, lovely animal.”